Lucknow, 03 February 2013: A clinical all-round display helped Delhi Waveriders maintain their supremacy in the Hero Hockey India League by beating Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-0 at Dhyan Chand Astroturf Stadium in Lucknow on Sunday.
In this afternoon game, Andres Mir Bel, Simon Child and Gurwinder Singh Chandi helped Waveriders, the league’s only unbeaten team, to earn full five points. The win took Waveriders’ tally to 44 points, and they are not guaranteed to finish on top of the points table at the end of the league stage.
Waveriders’ win also kept Dabur Mumbai Magicians’ hopes of making the cut for the semi-finals alive. It’s clear now that the race for the fourth spot is going to be between Wizards and Magicians. With Waveriders winning by three goals, Wizards were denied even one point, although they lead Magicians by eight points with two games to play.
In Sunday’s game, AK Bansal’s boys made some good moves early on, and earned back to back penalty corners in the 10th minute. The second one put them one-nil ahead, with Andres Mir Bel striking a low flick to the left corner, which easily beat the Wizards’ goalie. Uthappa and De Nooijer combined well to make some interesting moves for the hosts, but were not allowed to take a shot at the goal by alert Waveriders’ defence. The hosts got a big blow in the 17th minute when Waveriders’ increased their lead. Oscar Deecke’s hard hit from the top of the Wizards’ circle took a deflection from Simon Child and went into the goal, which put the home side’s defence under more pressure.
Wizards kept coming at the visitors’ defence regularly, but a strong midfield play, and a agile and alert defence denied them clear opportunities. And if at all Wizards’ got through the midfield and defence, then there was Waveriders’ wall Nicloas Jacobi to deny them.
Waveriders had a chance to go up 3-0 in the 28th minute, when Child and Akashdeep combined well to beat the entire Wizards’ defence. However, Akashdeep’s deflected hit was saved well by Wizards’ goalie Bazeley, and the hosts defence cleared the ball after that. Visitors did eventually go 3-0 up a couple of minutes later though. Chandi struck a very hard hit from the top of the circle, and although Bazeley guessed it right and dived to his right, the pace on the shot was too much to handle for the Wizards’ goalkeeper.
Leading by three goals going into second half, Waveriders focussed on keeping their shape, and denied Wizards any clear opportunities after the half time. After a slightly dull third quarter, Wizards through everything at the visitors, and earned as many as three penalty corners in the final quarter. The first drag flick was taken by Raghunath, but Jacobi got it right to deny the Wizards’ skipper. Next two were taken by Hertzberger, both in different styles, and Jacobi was once again there to deny hosts any celebrations.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards captain VR Raghunath said that their team failed to materialise the opportunities. “We did attack a lot but we could not change into goal while Delhi got less opportunity than us but they set the goal and whatever way they got they changed into goal, Delhi’s goalkeeper played very well,” Raghunath told to media persons at post-match press conference,
Delhi Waveriders’ coach AK Banal said that the team played with free mind and enjoyed the match. “We had no planning for this game and I spoke to my team to play with free mind. We didn’t want to lose the sustainable because we have been wining continuously and UP Wizards played very well but could not score any goal,” the coach stated.
The Hero Hockey India League is organised by Hockey India with official sanction from the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The inaugural season is being played from January 14 to February 10, 2013 in a home-and-away format. The five franchisee-based teams, consisting of the top hockey players from India and around the world, will compete for the prestigious trophy. Hero Motocorp Ltd. is the Title Sponsor of the league while Airtel is the Associate Sponsor. Star Sports, who is the Broadcast Partner, will be telecasting all matches live.
Delhi Waveriders 3 (Andres Mir Bel 10, Simon Child 17, Gurwinder Singh Chandi 30) bt Uttar Pradesh Wizards 0
HERO Goal of the Day: Gurwinder Singh Chandi
Man-of-the-Match: Nicolas Jacobi